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Information About Secondary Audio Programming

What is Secondary Audio Programming (SAP)?

A secondary audio program (SAP) service is carried along side a television channel as an alternative to the standard audio that accompanies the video portion of a program. Listeners can choose this secondary audio signal through either a television, a stereo VCR equipped to receive SAP signals, or a special SAP receiver. A portable SAP receiver allows traveling individuals to catch all the audio from their favourite television show.

The SAP feature allows a TV station to broadcast other information to the viewer through the audio receive system. That other information could be the same program audio in another language, or something completely different, such as weather information or Descriptive Video Services (DVS) for the visually impaired. DVS is a service where a narrator describes the action of a scene during pauses in the dialogue. Audiences can hear that an actor sadly buries his face in his hands, for example.As another example of S.A.P. application, ABC regularly provides Spanish audio commentary during "World News Tonight" and "Monday Night Football" as well as other selected sporting events and specials. They do this using the Secondary Audio Program (SAP). Viewers who had the SAP feature turned on could hear the game in Spanish.

The video descriptions delivered over the secondary audio programming channel are heard only when that channel is activated. AccessDome is working on bringing you channel listings of North American SAP programming. Please check back soon.

How does one get the SAP signal?

Most stereo televisions and VCRs manufactured in 1995 or later have SAP options. Even if you have a newer model TV, SAP will not be available if your set has mono sound only. Consult your user's manual for secondary audio programming directions.

You can purchase a stand-alone audio SAP receiver which will pick up the secondary audio frequency from your public television station. Check back for a listing of where you can purchase a reciever

Audio streaming over the internet is a new concept which will hopefully catch on. SAP signals are picked up and rebroadcast. Currently, the only place we are aware of this happening is at

What are the North American communications regulatory bodies doing to ensure SAP signals are made available to the public?

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), has stated that as of March 12, 2001, cable companies with more than 2,000 subscribers, and multipoint distribution systems (MDS) - such as Look TV, SkyCable and Image Wireless - operating in English-language markets will be required to distribute VoicePrint. Direct-to-home (DTH) satellite providers such as Bell ExpressVu and Star Choice will also be required to distribute the service to their English-language subscribers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States has adopted video description rules that will require local affiliates for ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox networks to provide a minimum of 50 hours of SAP programming per calendar quarter (roughly four hours per week). These rules will commence with the calendar quarter April to June 2002.

Eventually, the FCC wants to apply video description rules to all video programming distributors, including all TV stations, cable operators, direct broadcast satellite operators, home satellite-dish providers, open video system operators, satellite master antenna TV operators, and wireless cable operators.

see our News Release section for more information



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